China to increase grain imports this year

China is expected to increase its grain imports this year compared to 2012, according to economist Yang Weilu.

Weilu, the senior economist and deputy director with the China National Grain and Oils Information Center, noted that expectation while speaking at the Cereals North America global grain conference in Winnipeg.

China will continue to import grains from Canada, including wheat and canola, said Weilu, adding that a large amount of the canola it imports comes from Canada.

China is also expected to increase imports of soybeans in 2013 from 2012. Weilu expects the country to import around 60 million tonnes of soybeans in 2013, up from 59 million in 2012.

But corn imports are expected to decline in the country, he said, adding that China will likely bring in fewer than five million tonnes of corn from other places this year. In 2012, China imported 5.2 million tonnes of corn.

Some analysts and trade officials speculated that China would continue to increase its corn imports, he added, because of the large amount it brought in last year — but he doesn’t expect that to happen.

“China’s corn output has increased substantially in recent years,” he said, adding that “China’s market demand does not support large imports.”

Of China’s four major crops (rice, corn, wheat, soybeans), corn is the only crop that has seen production increase sharply in recent years. Weilu noted output of corn in China will total 215 million tonnes in 2013-14, up from 205 million in 2012-13.

The country is also expecting to continue increasing its output of grains going forward, as it moves toward reaching their goal of becoming self-sufficient in grain production, Weilu said.

Strong domestic prices compared to the rest of the world and good state support will help China eventually reach that stated goal, he added.

— Terryn Shiells writes for Commodity News Service Canada, a Winnipeg company specializing in grain and commodity market reporting.

Related stories:
China set to test loans, subsidies to support farmers, Nov. 6, 2013
During shutdown, China and others quietly binged on U.S. grain, Oct. 31, 2013

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